In December 2020, the news of three proposed bills were being examined and one of them is under the spotlight to be introduced in the House. Supporters of sports betting have attempted to get the industry legalized in the state four times since the sports betting ban was overturned. The bill from Representative of the House Wes Rogers has a bill that is among the bills that are the friendliest to the sports betting industry. The bill proposes lower taxes on gross gaming revenue and scraps the excess fees to professional sports leagues and regulatory bodies’ interests in sports betting. The bill is sure to garner support from sportsbook operators and professional sports leagues and may even see the bill passed to bring sports betting to Missouri sooner rather than later.
The Gaming Agenda
December 2020 saw four sports betting proposals profiled by Senate Republicans and the bill proposed by Rep. Wes Rogers brings the total to five for the House to choose from. The agenda on gaming is filled to the brim and with the House consisting of two chambers and support for sports betting from two opposing political parties, the deliberation and discussion around sports wagering in Missouri looks to be interesting.
The bills that were proposed covers the legalization of video lottery terminals as well as betting at sportsbooks. The five proposals also include measures that would see riverboat casinos allowed to operate on land, with two additional proposals that look to take a closer look at illegal gambling operations and unauthorized sportsbooks. Bills proposed in 2020 were similar to those currently on the table which would allow for online and retail sportsbook licenses granted to the state’s 13 casino locations. These bills advanced somewhat, out of committee, but were stopped due to issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic and pushing all discussions around gaming to the backburner. Supporters of gaming in Jefferson City are hoping to see gaming as a part of the state’s budget as the city sees rising health costs and decreasing tax revenues.
Details of the First Measure
The Rogers bill will look to allow retail and online sportsbooks to operate state-wide. The 13 casinos in the state will each be allowed three online skins making it a total of 39 licenses across the state with the industry overseen by the Missouri Gaming Commission. The proposed tax rate for all sportsbooks will be 6% of adjusted gross revenue as well as lower than industry standard fees for license application, administration and renewal. The Rogers bill is quite similar to the bill proposed by the Senate Majority leader Caleb Rowden, where the only differences were the tax rate and license fees.
The two bills will need to contend with other bills for the spotlight, as betting and the legalization of video lottery terminals, which seem more politically complex. The legalization of video lottery terminals could be more lucrative for the state than the operation of sportsbooks in localized gambling locations. Bills for the legalization of these terminals have been proposed in the House for the past five years and will be a major part of the discussion this year.
Many Challenges Ahead
Missouri is set to have an interesting year as far as gaming in the state is concerned, as the top priority would be to find a solution to these potential sportsbooks and gaming machines are just two topics of discussion to be handled in 2021. This represents a fraction of the hundreds of bills that need to be considered in the 2021 legislative session that begins on January 13. The addition of a House bill that has terms that are favorable to sportsbook operators is a positive sign for the supporters of sports betting legalization this year. The fight against illegal gambling and bills aimed to fight the criminal element will also be highlighted as gaming revenue is lost to the state when bettors choose illegal means to gamble instead of going to one of the 13 casinos in the state. The efforts for sports betting legalization will be tough as the legislative session will be complex and jam-packed with issues that will affect the state going forward.